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Muppets From Space films in September

By Phillip Chapman
Courtesy of Variety
May 20, 1998

Director Randal Kleiser, who was in charge of the recently re-released "Grease," has inked a seven-figure deal to helm "Muppets From Space," shooting in Australia in September.

It will be the second time Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the Muppets will be directed by someone not connected directly with The Jim Henson Company. The first being James Frawley who directed "The Muppet Movie". Subsequent films were directed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz and the last two by Brian Henson. It also marks the first time a Muppet Film will be filmed in Australia. Australia is also the location of filming for the new Jim Henson Company/Hallmark Entertainment sci-fi series "Farscape" to air on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Jim Henson Pictures execs on the project are Stephanie Allain and Kristine Belson. Screenplay is by longtime Muppets writer Jerry Juhl.

"I just read it a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was great - very clever and funny," Klieser told Daily Variety. "I just wanted to do it. I've worked with animals and children but never puppets."

Kleiser's previous films include "It's My Party," "White Fang," "The Blue Lagoon" and "Honey, I Blew Up the Kids."  His 23-minute, 3-D film "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience," which is showing at Disney's Epcot complex in Florida and Disneyland Tokyo, opens Friday at Disneyland's renovated Tomorrowland in Anaheim.  "Muppets From Space" will be released by Columbia Pictures in July 1999.

Personally, I like the move of having a non-Muppet person being the director.  I think this will give the movie more of an "objective" approach rather than a "subjective" one.  I love the Muppet performers (Brian Henson has excelled tremendously the past few years), and I just want them to concentrate on what they do best, performing.  And if we have any kind of success like "The Muppet Movie" (ironically 20 years after it's release), then we've got the most successful Muppet film this decade.

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